CHAPTER THREE

IT COULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE JOGGER.   SHE HAD BEEN RUNNING SOUTH AND THE PLAINTIVE WAIL CAME FROM THE NORTH.

“Officer responding to a 12-16 at Park Zoo,” Greer shouted into the radio microphone stitched into his jacket. “86th Street entrance. Requesting immediate backup!”

“Confirmed,” came the even voice of the dispatcher.   “All units in the vicinity of –” He turned down the speaker in hopes of hearing another scream. Any sound, really, that would assure him the victim was still alive.

He arrived at the entrance to the zoo, his gun drawn, leaping the low fence.   Listening.   Nothing.

He raced farther, past the information kiosk, the souvenir shop and the learning center.   He slowed when he got to the animal pens.   Each were emptied at night as the lions and bears and gorillas were put in their cages. Greer took out his flashlight and held it just above his gun. He stepped from pen to pen, hoping he would hear a whimper at least. Still nothing.

The snapping of a branch in the darkness sounded as loud as a cannon blast.

Greer turned and aimed his gun and the flashlight at once. Illuminated in the light was something that could only be described as a creature.